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June 17, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Eric Newton delivers a message from Ministry Chapel entitled “Experiencing God’s Mercy and Grace Through Diligent Preparation,” from Ezra 7:1-10.
The post 1014. Experiencing God’s Mercy and Grace Through Diligent Preparation appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. The school was founded in 1927 by the evangelist Dr. Bob Jones Senior's intent was to make a school where Christ would be the center of everything, so he established daily chapel services today. That tradition continues with fervent biblical preaching from the University Chapel platform today speaker is Dr. Eric Newton seminary professor at Bob Jones University. Well, good morning. It's good to see you.
I know that you've got a lot on their minds, but it is a privilege to gather together and meet in God's name always privilege to open his word and it's a privilege to speak on this topic I won't live a when you're asked to speak on diligent preparation and wonder why someone else didn't get the assignment. I can't. I can assure you there wasn't some diligence contest among by the faculty that I won something like that, at least, is April 2 is not yesterday. You know you get an email says hey what you speak on diligent preparation rules, but I do believe I can testify leave a message for us today. Jonathan Edwards is a name with whom your he's perhaps the most influential and important theologian in American history is known for being a theologian with a very big God as one author puts it, he looked at God first and then reviewed all other things in relation to that something that can be said of somebody. He looked first at God and then all other things in relation he spoke of the beauty of God's glory. But he also understood the necessity of personal diligence. He's perhaps equally famous for 70 resolutions that he is an 18 and 19-year-old resolutions like these is the first one result that I will do whatsoever I think to be most to God's glory in sunlight and profit and pleasure in the whole of my duration without any consideration of the time, whether now or never. So many myriads of ages resolved to do whatever I think to be my duty and most of the good and advantage of mankind in general resolve to do this. Whatever difficulties I meet with however so many and however separate is 28 resolution reads like this resolved to study the Scriptures so steadily constantly and frequently that I may find plainly perceive myself to grow in knowledge.
I find it intriguing and highly significant that a man with whom was blessed to whom was blessed. Perhaps one of the most amazing theological minds is a man who is known for exalting the glory of God in his grace that that man resolved at a young age the age of many of you to work as hard as he could to bring God pleasure, and to do it fundamentally by studying God. It's difficult for us in our finite minds to hold the two ends of our topic this morning together God's mercy and grace in our diligent preparation. We we we tend to have this compartment in our minds and we think okay it's it's 100% capacity. So so maybe God's grace and mercy will fill up that 100% or or or maybe we tend toward I've got to have the kind diligent preparation so that I fill up the hundred cent, or maybe we've got a combination of both. But it's hard for us to get our mental hands around the reality that it's all grace and it's all the resolution to diligent pursuit got it's all both. It really is.
Paul says in first Corinthians 1510 but by the grace of God I am what I is grace, which was bestowed on me was not in vain. But I labored more abundantly than they all think we would want to say we want to go on record. Having said that, in Scripture, but God inspired those words through Paul.
He finishes out yet not but the grace of God as one writer puts it, grace is not opposed to effort it's opposed to earning. I will not appeal to you this morning that the church, the church that you're a part of the church that you're going to be a part of the church in which you're going to minister some of you in just a few weeks of that I was talking to a friend of mine right back there and and in June he's going to be on staff in the local church here in United States. On appeal to you that that those churches need people like you people who have a heart for ministry in an allegiance to a very great Savior to experience his mercy and grace to diligent preparation.
That's what our churches need. I don't think I have to try to convince you that our world is consumed with shallow reactionary temporal humanistic pragmatic thinking, not to mention self-centered, lawless, destructive living, I think we understand the need at least to some extent the church does not need people who are vaguely familiar with God's word to give it a nod and a wink who halfheartedly pass along microwaved speech that they sort of learn from others, and more importantly, that doesn't glorify God. That's why I'm appealing to us this morning to be overwhelmed by God's mercy and grace through our diligent preparation, not Jonathan Edwards can motivate us. He certainly motivates me.
But it's actually the word of God that saving the instructs us and rebukes us and corrects us and trains us and equips us so would you open your Bibles with me to Ezra chapter 7 and I'm gonna read the first 10 verses Ezra 7 starting in verse one after these things in the rain of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra, the son of Soraya, son of Azariah, Centerville, Kia Senate shall own the son of Sadock, the son of a high tube son of Mariah, the son of Azariah Edison of Marais.
Send Sarah hi Edison you Z the son of Mookie, son of Abba Hsu Edison of Phineas, son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest you might be wondering why didn't you just skip all the power family worship with my children they would be laughing by now RI believe me, when you say Cousy and Mookie they can't keep it under control.action. Those names are important to come back to that verse six. This Ezra that that that particular Ezra went up from Babylon and he was a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given and the king granted him all his request. According to the hand of the Lord is God upon him, and there went up some of the children of Israel in the priests and the Levites and singers and porters in the net names unto Jerusalem in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, and he Ezra came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, four months to get there. 900 miles, which was in the seventh year of the king, for upon the first day of the first month began to go up from Babylon in the first day of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem. According to the good hand of his God upon him. Notice the connector for according to the good hand of his God upon him for Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord and to do it teaching Israel statutes judge when those three things by way of background here. Number one, we understand what were reading about this Ezra is believing response he believed the Lord took the Lord at his word. If you if you notice chapter 1 verse three is very interesting. It's the call of the Lord through a pagan ruler. Cyrus says who is there among you of all his people, his God be with him and let him go up to Jerusalem, and Ezra and these other people that are mentioned in chapter 7.
They obeyed the command of the Lord and they went up they went up to return to help lead the restoration of a remnant in Jerusalem wants to understand the circumstances here. Do you realize how significant the Babylonian captivity was for the people of Israel.
How much of a say, a signature, it was of their failure. There was no temple in Jerusalem that there was no united people of God to worship, but Ezra didn't order his life according to his circumstances. He ordered his life, God is Creator he didn't settle for mere survival. He didn't say a 900 miles away from home, so it probably doesn't matter anyway. He didn't say okay my calling as a priest in this amazing line going all the way to Aaron that doesn't matter anymore mission of Templeton to be a priest at now he understood the need to prepare himself as Esther says, for such a time.
He believed God number two. He had a blessed heritage.
I know I'm talking to a variety of people today from a lot of different backgrounds but the very fact that you're sitting in this room is an indication that God has blessed you. Many of you through your physical family. All of us in other ways people have poured into your life. They poured money into your life there praying for you people got up this morning and prayed for you at Bob Jones University.
They prayed for your future. You have blessed heritage.
He didn't simply assume success. He considered God's grace in his young life. He did something with number three there was a window of opportunity. What take time to really develop this but in chapter 9 verse eight it says he's praying. Confession is in Jerusalem now and he says, and now for a little space. Grace hath been showed from the Lord our God to leave us a remnant. I really like King James puts that okay it's a little quaint but and now for a little space. Grace has been showed from the Lord our God, there was a window of opportunity we would call it Ezra knew the Lord had favored his people for a time there was an appointed window a little space for infinite grace and when the time came.
Ezra was ready and so we have in chapter 7 verse 10 in inspired pattern. Ezra prepared his heart. Ezra prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord's work prepared in the Old Testament is used for appointing a representative of the 12 tribes for each of the 12 tribes. It's used for the Lord's establishing a king like David. It's used for Haman's preparing the gallows for Mordecai. So Ezra made a firm appointment for his heart.
He established its direction.
He prepared his heart. He did everything necessary to set it up. It reminds me of Calvin's seal. John Calvin had a personal seal. See picture had this motto. My heart, I offer to you oh Lord promptly and sincerely we think of Calvin and maybe his heart is not what we think of it, but that's what he thought of my heart. Oh Lord, I offer to you promptly and sincerely.
I establish my heart. Jonathan Edwards talked about the affections. The inclinations of the sold disposition of the will is the love that overpowers everything else in your life, what are you passionate about what you established your heart to do for Ezra it was to study the Bible and to do the Bible and to teach the Bible. This studying the law of the Lord. It's a search it's an inquiry it's an exploration reminds me of parallel verse in second Timothy 215 study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing cutting straight the word of truth. Studying this actually doesn't mean study like like study the words study has the idea of being especially conscientious being earnestly committed ready to expend energy and effort in fulfilling an obligation offering putting in our disposal to God all that we have so that we might faithfully handle his word. Tested and proven as a laborer, how we esteem the book is evidenced by how we handle the book how we esteem the Bible is evidenced by how we handle the Bible and in their lot things going against this request for maximal efficiency. If I can get it done faster. It must therefore be better right. We know that's not right you know up here that that is often how I live. Fortunately, we put a premium on visible results. We have an innate pension to compare ourselves among ourselves.
He got it done in 1/2 hour I should be able to do the same. He study he set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to do it. It's hard not to think of Daniel one, when Daniel purposed in his heart to follow God's laws in a distant land and was given favor in the sight of God, Danya, Daniel, and Ezra didn't find themselves in this foreign situation and decide there must be a new way to do things a novel pathway to success. They establish their hearts to make use of the revelation they had been given. Daniel studied the revelation he knew when the seven years he knew it was seven years Daniel nine tells Ezra didn't forget the middle term study, teach, okay, he didn't forget the middle term do the law of the Lord. That's not moralism that's not legalism, not by grace, BB Warfield Princeton theologian said, a minister must be learned on pain of being utterly incompetent in his work, but before and above being learned.
A minister must be godly. Those who truly minister for God do so out of the overflow of our hearts, we apply what we see in the mirror of Scripture think of James one. You look in the perfect law of liberty, and instead of forgetting what you saw it, it changes you and you keep going back and looking at any walk away and stumble to get back up and you go back and look at the perfect law of liberty, and it changes you because you're looking at Jesus and the spirit transforms us to look like Jesus.
When we look at Jesus and his word. Those who experience God's mercy and grace through diligent preparation are people who have lifted up their heart and set its direction to do the law of the Lord and finally to teach the statutes and ordinances in Israel. We don't know all that came Ezra's teaching ministry Kate.
We don't have his systematic theology notes. Unfortunately, we do have some books of the Bible that he wrote but we do know some of the fruit.
We read in Nehemiah 8 that years after Ezra returned to Jerusalem, the time came when God's people were ready for revival, and Ezra was there to lead it reading and explaining God's words. He wasn't ready for such a time as this predicted how that was going to happen. He he he couldn't have known exactly how God was going to use them, but he was ready because he established his heart in that direction and and several centuries later Ezra's ministry goes on and on. Not just in Scripture. In these books like Ezra chronicles that we believe wrote but but but also in this group called the sofa ream that describes that the men who were kind of like the Jewish Bible Society that for centuries maintained the Masoretic text, but those were Esther's guys and there's a connection as I tried to emphasize when I read verses nine and 10. There's a connection between the good hand of his God being upon him, and Ezra, establishing his heart to do these things that does this kind of mess with your theology a little bit. It says the good hand of his God was upon him, for he had prepared his heart.
We were talking about works righteousness here.
He prepared to start. So God blessed him you honor me, all under you is that how it works. Grace is all throughout this book, God told what he was going to do through Cyrus centuries before it happened. This is not works righteousness God moves in Ezra's heart and he followed the Lord gave the Lord his heart and because of that it was very evident that God's mercy and grace was following through him and his good hand was a modest push past reductive explanations of God's grace God works mercifully and graciously in our lives not to make up the difference. Not to excuse apathy and slaw, but to enable us through faith filled diligent, how would we know that the good hand of the Lord is upon us. One way is because seemingly before it matters. And anybody cares.
We fix our hearts to study and practice and do the work so mercy and grace for and through diligent preparation is a very interesting time of year to preach this message perhaps is a very interesting time of year to listen to this message. I have some say in the day, but I don't think I was thinking about I really going to need stick it to him. Yes there diligent to the end that that really wasn't my thing.
Choosing state. There's obviously an opportunity for immediate application of this during the final month of the semester, but I I want to challenge you to think way way way beyond the next three days I want I want to challenge some of you to think hard and pray faithfully about how God wants to use you and equip you, you expect me that to encourage you to go to seminary right but will of course I love you. Good seminary course I would love to get some foundational training beyond what you already have. I'm thinking well beyond that I'm thinking of a group of about 600 young people who are conscientious and doing their spiritual ministries. If there's anything that we should care about most, and work at hardest. It should be studying and practicing and teaching God's word is a mountain of mercies, therefore lay ourselves on the altar as living sacrifices. It's the only worship that makes any sense. You say I'm not called to minister the word out. I'm not going to be a preacher to be a Bible teacher. You know what churches need some teaching and they need lots of other people who do lots of other things with the word throughout the week in their lives there hundreds of opportunities every year for people like all of us to enter into conversation and point people to the word because God has enabled us to diligently study it and to apply imperfectly but sincerely had to be ready to teach it to other that's for all of us. That's what our churches need team up with other people find somebody who's called to be a minister and encourage them go somewhere to the far-flung reaches of the earth with them. This is what's ultimately important and finally I just want to encourage us as somebody encouraged me when I was in upperclassman here BJ you a few years ago to do theology in the first person do your theology. Study your Bible in the first person like it's it's you and God. It is said of Edwards. All his preaching and writing aimed at the heart and that's because it was his heart that his study affected first make God demonstrated his mercy and grace your diligent preparation is to pray with heavenly father, we thank you that you are more gracious than we could ever imagine.
Please strengthen us for your name said you been listening to a sermon by Dr. Eric Newton one of the seminary professors at Bob Jones University. I'm Steve Pettit, president of Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Thank you for listening to The Daily Platform.
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